APSA Presentation: The Theory of Butter-for-Bombs Agreements

Want to learn about negotiating over nuclear weapons? Come to the Stevens Meeting Center Salon D at 2 pm on Friday.

Download the paper here.

This paper develops a model of negotiating over costly weapons programs. Surprisingly, in equilibrium, rising states rarely invest in arms. First, if the extent of the power shift is large, the declining state leverages the threat of preventive war to induce the rising state not to build. Second, if the power shift is too small to be worth the investment, the declining state offers no concessions and still induces non-armament. In between, if the cost are sizable, the declining state offers concessions-for-weapons, or butter-for-bombs deals. Even though the rising state could take those concessions and build anyway, it nevertheless accepts the payments and maintains the status quo. Armament only occurs in the least important of cases–that is, when the power shift is minimal and not costly. The results indicate that major power shifts–such as those caused by nuclear proliferation–are not non-negotiable and are instead the result of other bargaining problems.

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